An acceptable alternative needs to be found, or we may all lose. That was the message delivered by the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce at the January 19th, public meeting on the Hwy 407 extension, hosted by the City of Oshawa. Chamber C.E.O. Bob Malcolmson said in discussions with business leaders, they all agree it is imperative that Hwy 407 comes to Oshawa. The Chamber recommended putting in place an acceptable alternative that gets the 407 to Oshawa and through Durham Region to the 35/115. Pictured right are Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal and Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Rick Johnson unveiling a sign on Highway 35/115, just north of Kirby, indicating the future location of the intersection with Highway 407. The sign was unveiled in December 2010 and doesn’t indicate when the government anticipates the extension will be completed. Since the announcement in June 2010 local area politicians at all levels have been lobbying the government.
Speaking at the meeting, they all agreed phasing of Hwy 407 was never discussed and the announcement by the government that the first end of link for the extension would be at Simcoe Street in Oshawa came as a surprise. They expect the province to keep their promise under the FLOW agreement.
The Chamber agrees. Unfortunately, this past June, the government’s announcement on the phasing was handled badly. The first anyone in Durham knew about it was from a press release from Jeff Leal (Liberal MPP, Peterborough) and then just prior to Christmas he unveiled a sign on Highway 35/115 referencing the 407 extension.
“The issue has become extremely politicized and with respect to our elected officials, the Chamber feels we need to ratchet down the political rhetoric,” stated Bob Malcolmson, CEO of the Chamber, adding, “it is time to bring all stakeholders together to find an acceptable alternative, set out firm timelines and commitments for the extension past Oshawa to 35/115.” Without an adjustment, the Chamber is concerned this ‘Yes Or No’ position makes it easier for the province to say No.
“We need to work with the province and not issue ultimatums in this economy,” Malcolmson stated. “Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion had a great way of getting her transportation plans adopted. She would meet with the Ministry and set out Mississauga’s projected 2, 3 and 5 year economic development plans as to where they needed infrastructure placed thus allowing the Ministry to work with the City. We need to do the same.”
In a letter to the Premier in June of 2010, the Chamber commented on its surprise regarding the announcement of the phasing of Highway 407 through Durham, with the first end of link terminating at Simcoe Street in Oshawa. The Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce has been an active member of the Highway 407 Community Advisory Committee since the fall of 2002 and at no time during that period was phasing the Durham section of Highway 407 to 35/115 discussed.
In the correspondence the Chamber thanked the Premier for finally announcing the extension of Highway 407 and that it was a good start—BUT, felt to have it announced in the media that the parameters for completion of the highway had changed without any dialogue or input from the Durham community, which has worked so diligently and in good faith over the past ten years on the completion of the Highway 407 extension to 35/115, was unfortunate.
The lack of an alternative freeway through the eastern side of the GTA is a safety issue and results in delays to auto and commercial traffic when Highway 401 is closed or capacity is limited as a result of an accident or construction/rehabilitation.
Since 2004, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce call for completion of the 407 to Highway 35/115 stressing that the negative economic, safety and capital investment impact to Ontario of not proceeding to complete the Eastward Extension—Highway 407 eastward from Brock Rd. in Pickering to Hwy 35/115 is real and this was re-affirmed this past May at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce AGM in Windsor.
Reducing gridlock, congestion and integrating the transportation network are policy priorities for Ontario Chamber of Commerce members across the province. Congestion in the GTA could cost the Region up to $3 billion per year by 2021 in lost productivity.
Transportation is a key factor in unleashing Durham’s economic potential. Regional Chair Anderson noted in his comments—with the building of the Stevenson Road interchange it opened up employment lands. Back in 1998 then Minister of Transportation, Tony Clement spoke at the Chamber AGM, he was pressed by the Chamber Board of Directors on the issue of the interchange. He stated, if we wanted the interchange built, the province needed a partner.
During its presentation the Chamber noted that we (Ontario and Canada) are not yet into a sustainable recovery and all levels of government have to make some difficult spending decisions. Finance Minister Flaherty has even said he has to make tough decisions and SAY NO. “So could the province,” Malcolmson reminded the attendees!
In 2007 when the FLOW agreement was signed, Canada was not in a deep recession. How quickly the tide turned—and in late 2008 the recession hit. The Hwy 407 extension to Oshawa will be a definite asset to our community’s biggest employment generator, UOIT. Hwy 407 avails Oshawa of the opportunity to see the potential of new business and industry setting up in vacant employment lands in the north end of Oshawa around the University. This will add badly needed business property tax revenue to the City coffers. New businesses will help give relief to the residential property tax payers and create new jobs reducing our unemployment numbers.
To NOT have Hwy 407 come to Oshawa would be a disaster for Oshawa, Clarington and all of Durham Region.
The Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest business associations in Durham Region with over 1100 entrepreneurs, managers and corporate executives as members representing over 840 businesses, which employ over 50,000. As the ‘Voice of Business’ for Greater Oshawa, we provide positive leadership in support of our members, business and the private enterprise system. We continually strive to promote an environment that will advance existing business and attract new business.